By Girish Gogia • January 13, 2016
I was ushered into the auditorium in a wheelchair. Being a tetraplegic (which means paralyzed neck downwards) I cannot move an inch on my own, nor can I do any work without the help of a caretaker. As my caretaker smoothly guided my wheelchair onto the stage, an estimated 500 strong audience broke into an applause. I was conducting an inspirational seminar in Mumbai, India for an international IT company. They had certainly been briefed about me, ‘The Positive Man’ - the title given to me by ‘The Times of India’. They were curious to know how a 90% paralyzed man completely confined to a wheelchair can inspire or help them in any way. In a split second my mind travelled back 16 years, to an accident .
In December 1999, I was in Goa with my wife Eesha to welcome the new millennium. That was when I was completely able and travelled internationally for my interior design projects. Deep sea diving was one of my favourite adventure sports. The spirit of festivity was in the air. Soon we reached my favourite point – a perfect spot for deep sea diving. Soon I was on top of the cliff ready for my dive. I sprang with a certain experienced acrobatic manoeuvre towards the sea. A couple of seconds later, there was total darkness, only regaining conciousness on a hospital bed, with no track of time. I could only move my head. It was later in the day that the doctor explained the diagnosis - my cervical spinal cord nerves had been entirely pulverized and I was now neck downwards paralyzed for life. There was absolutely no cure for my condition and chances for survival were minimal. Even so, I would be living the rest of my life as a vegetable. I was devastated. Totally in denial, I refused to believe that this could happen to me. There was no light at the end of the tunnel. I was being sucked into an abyss. Months passed. I did not die. Something kept me alive, giving me courage even when I had none, soothing my forehead and asking me to relax. One thing was for sure. This something was growing bigger and bigger within me, this something within me was almost becoming a rebel, a stronger voice with each passing day. “Girish. Wake up. Get out of the abyss. You have come into this world for a purpose. Your accident was not meant to defeat you. Wake up and march ahead. Fulfill your mission. Go inspire a billion hearts. Hope and positivity will spring from your heart and inspire all. You are the Hope Factory. Go, fulfill -Mission Positive Earth. Touch and light up 7 billion lives globally. Remember – the greatest success stories come from people who turn biggest adversities into greatest opportunities.”
Nothing made sense to me. I met the doctor who had given me the defeatist prognosis in my wheelchair. And yes. I did approach him in my wheelchair and told him with a determined and passionate voice – “Doctor. I appreciate your diagnosis. But I refuse to accept your verdict. I will not live like a vegetable for the rest of my life. Rather, I will spread hope, inspiration and positivity in the hearts of millions.” He stared at me with definite awe. Looking at him, I knew that I had motivated him. A certain sense of confidence started building up inside me –if I can motivate a world class doctor, I can motivate the whole world. Turning my biggest loss into my greatest strength. I can conquer seemingly insurmountable obstacles. I can accomplish Mission Positive Earth.
One day, our driver drove my father , my caretaker & me to Mumbai Central Railway Station – the largest landmark in Mumbai. The newly refurbished interiors unraveled before my eyes – the revamping was planned by me, and executed to perfection by the architects, engineers and workers. This was one of the 15 international interior designing projects which I did after my life changing incident. My father had wonderously exclaimed, “Hats off to you my son. Handling such a daunting task. In spite of being 90% paralyzed. Possible only with willpower, enduring passion, perseverance and sheer determination, simply because you refused to quit and give up in life.” My heart welled with pride & gratitude. I felt happy to note that several of my projects had featured in many international architectural magazines. I must mention here that had it not been for the tremendous moral support of my parents, my sisters and my wife, it would not have been possible for me to keep up the f! ight.
However, something was still bothering me. I confided in Eesha – “I am still feeling an emptiness within.” Eesha helped me to see that I wanted to reach out to others. Inspire them to fight against their adversities. Share my own example of resilience, grit and death defying survival/victory.” Eesha’s words got etched deep within my mind. “Yes,” I acknowledged, “Now it’s time to share my life. However tragedy was to strike again. Eesha, my wife, was diagnosed with a deadly degenerative disease called multiple sclerosis which again has no cure.
Over the months and years Eesha’s condition deteriorated , gradually she lost 70% of her vision and 90% of her speech. She became completely paralyzed neck downwards, unable to move even an inch or do anything on her own. Despite her being completely bedridden for the last nine years of her debilitating condition, we stood stoically beside each other like pillars of support. Rock bottom became the foundation on which we rebuilt our lives. We came to observe life very closely. We realized that the human spirit is far stronger than anything that could happen to it. We also realized that giving is the highest level of living. I shut down my thriving interior designing business to answer my divine calling – which was to reinvent myself as an inspirational and motivational speaker. Considering the world as one global family, duly loving and respecting each individual unconditionally, sharing our example of resilience in the face of gruelling adversities with everybody and inspiring them to transform victim into victory and trial into triumph – like a diehard optimist. And though my wife cannot accompany me physically for my seminars, in spirit she is always a part of Mission Positive Earth.
Looking back at all these incidents today, I feel that every adversity I went through and am still going through is actually a divine plan to prepare me for the bigger challenges lying ahead in the global pursuit of Mission Positive Earth. I also feel that each of us has that powerful voice deep within and that the deepest core of every human being is a field of infinite possibilities. I was finally beginning to understand what that voice was trying to tell me – “If we human beings realize that all the power we need to succeed is already within us, and if we can channelize this untapped potential, nothing is impossible. In every human being’s heart lies a spark of fire which lights up in the darkest hour of adversity. All that lies behind us and all that lies in front of us is too little in comparison to what lies within us, and when we realize this, we find that limitations are but imaginary. And if we simply accept this miracle and march ahead with a positive belief in ourselves, we can overcome all our hardships and turn all our dreams into reality. Obstacles actually strengthen our resolve even more. Struggles help us build character. Every challenging situation actually brings us closer to our inevitable victory.”
The small seminars at orphanages, old age homes, leprosy homes, home for the blind, non-profit organizations, etc soon turned into much bigger corporate seminars for multinational companies and educational institutions (my first corporate seminar being at Taj Palace Hotel, Mumbai). A pulsating burning desire within me broke the shackles of my disabled condition. I - The Positive Man - became regular news in the media. I received the Karmaveer Chakra, The Positive Real Life Hero Award and the MTC Global Top Ten Thinkers Award. But I do not work for awards or honours. Someone once asked me how much I earn. I replied that my current turnover is a staggering 7 billion good wishes and blessings from people all around the world. My real award is when someone tells me – “IF YOU CAN DO IT, SO CAN I”. Yes, I do receive generous donations from big corporates for every motivational seminar that I conduct, most of which I channelize towards similar programs for the underprivileged sections of society.
Living is made by what we get, but honestly, life is made by what we give. I sincerely believe in receiving graciously and giving unconditionally. For it is said that our potential is God’s gift to us. And what we do with it is our gift to him. I believe that ultimately the collective energy of billions of humans can achieve anything, including fighting Climate Change and attaining World Peace. And I determine to achieve these through my global pursuit called Mission Positive Earth. Sharing these thoughts with people through social media platforms is the main activity of my global mission. Every fibre of my being stands for this noble cause as I believe that total commitment is paramount to reach the pinnacle of success.
Today once again, I set out to touch hearts. Inspiring all to live out their highest vision. Because each man is capable of doing more than he thinks he can do. Does it matter that I have lost sensation in 90% of my body and my respiratory function is only about 50%, that I cannot drink a drop of water on my own or eat a morsel of food on my own, that my four limbs don’t function leaving me completely dependent on my caretaker round the clock, that I have zero control on my bladder and bowel or that if I am neck downwards completely paralyzed ? What really matters in life is that I am neck upwards wise and positively analyzed. I still have a heart that beats, a soul that feels and a mind that thinks optimistically.
Dear readers, never give up in life or lose hope as we humans are born to win. And only those who have the strength to overcome are faced with hardships. So don’t run away; don’t escape. Let those hard times ignite the strength within your heart and blow away your adversities. Let us each be grateful and thankful for this wonderful, amazing and priceless opportunity called life. Indeed our I cans, I ams and I wills are far more important than our IQs. With this, I take your leave, dear readers, as I commence my seminar :
“Good morning ladies and gentlemen ! What a miraculous journey life is …”
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